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Computing Thoughts
Ode to the Python Quick Reference (Ruby Needs One!)
by Bruce Eckel
October 24, 2007
Not only is this the first place that I look, it's a wonderful way to browse the language features and see what's new. It's also an excellent history of the language's development.


The Python Quick Reference has been the most excellent resource for many years, because it gives you an overview of the entire language and usually allows you to quickly find the solution you're looking for. If it doesn't, it has links directly into the Python documentation.

Just so Richard Gruet and the others who work on the PQR know, you have lots of fans out there. Thanks for all your work.

This is one of the many reasons that I am still drawn to Python rather than Ruby when I'm solving problems. Summed up in one word, it's "maturity." Not only am I far more likely to find a prepackaged solution in the standard libraries, but there are resources like the Python Quick Reference which make my life much easier.

That's not to say that there haven't been attempts to emulate the PQR in Ruby. For example, the Ruby QuickRef and the PDF-only Ruby Language QuickRef, but I observe that (1) none of them have the polish of the PQR and (2) there hasn't been unification yet as there has been for many years with the PQR being the one quick reference.

Before you fire up your comments, I continue to root for Ruby. I think it's great that Sun is directly supporting it as the scripting language for the JVM (as far as I know none of the other languages are actually getting financial support). I am also attracted to the more dynamic features of the language like open classes and the like. As far as dynamic languages on the JVM, both Ruby and the upcoming new version of Jython seem to me to be the most attractive of the offerings.

But to make Ruby easier, I suggest that Rubyists study from and plagiarize the PQR, and also learn from the "batteries included" approach in the Python standard libraries. Both of these are things that keep me going back to Python.

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About the Blogger

Bruce Eckel ( provides development assistance in Python with user interfaces in Flex. He is the author of Thinking in Java (Prentice-Hall, 1998, 2nd Edition, 2000, 3rd Edition, 2003, 4th Edition, 2005), the Hands-On Java Seminar CD ROM (available on the Web site), Thinking in C++ (PH 1995; 2nd edition 2000, Volume 2 with Chuck Allison, 2003), C++ Inside & Out (Osborne/McGraw-Hill 1993), among others. He's given hundreds of presentations throughout the world, published over 150 articles in numerous magazines, was a founding member of the ANSI/ISO C++ committee and speaks regularly at conferences.

This weblog entry is Copyright © 2007 Bruce Eckel. All rights reserved.

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